1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you. – 1 Peter 1:1-2 ESV
Peter is not considered the greatest Apostle based on biblical contributions, but he is first in many ways. Peter was the first to proclaim Jesus as Lord, and the first to deny him publicly. Peter seemed to be often acting before he thought, he tended to be quick to react and actually most of his character is typical of that of many Americans today. He was one of the first disciples of John the Baptist and one of the first to turn to Jesus. Peter was the first man that Jesus said “Follow me” to. Peter was the first to declare publicly that Jesus was the son of the living God. Peter was the first that saw the Lord risen from the dead. Peter was the first person to rise and preach the gospel (Pentecost). If 100 people were gathered around and the Holy Spirit came upon them, it would be no doubt that Peter would jump to his feet and share what was on his mind.
This great man was not perfect and he did not do everything in alignment with Christ. But God taking this wild fisherman and molding him to be who he became, then we can always have hope in our own life.
The “General Letters” are a collection of seven letters (James, Jude, 1–3 John, and 1–2 Peter), named because the post-Reformation Church did not think of them as addressed to any specific church. For both practical and theological reasons, this collection first began to circulate widely in the third century AD. Practically, these seven short letters were less likely to be lost when written on the same scroll or bound in the same codex. Theologically, the reading of these letters as a collection brought together the three “pillar apostles,” James, Peter, and John (Gal 2:9). The collection formed something of a counterbalance to Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament.
The Gospels and the book of Acts each portray Peter in distinct ways, characterizing him as both saint and sinner. The diversity of presentations can be seen by comparing Mark’s and Luke’s narratives of Jesus and His disciples praying in the garden of Gethsemane. In Mark’s account, Jesus only rebukes Peter for falling asleep while praying (Mark 14:37). Luke’s version omits the direct rebuke of Peter and shows Jesus addressing the disciples as a group instead. Isn’t it odd that since the Gospel of Mark has its foundations with Peter, that it is the only one that says he was the target of The Lord’s rebuke.
Last week we discussed that Peter was one of Jesus closest, one of the three, to Jesus. We described that the letter was written to Jews that were dispersed throughout the variety of areas. We see how wonderful Peter opens this letter with the immediate reference to the trinity, with inclusion of Jesus Christ. He states:
3 According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead – 1 Peter 1:2 ESV
That is the trinity, no more and no less. In this opening, Peter wants to make it clear what his belief is and his stance. He does not lead into the letter with happiness, joy and encouragement, then later slide it in. This was from the fully-committed disciple that was, at this time, sold out for Christ. For our own understanding we as Christians, non-Jews, need to understand the definition and impacts of such a statement. For Peter, a Jew, to follow Jesus and clarify in his letter this clear belief is very important.
Christians Vs Jews
There are many religions in existence today, and we need to understand that Christianity and Judaism (belief defined by the use of the term Jews) are likely the most similar of any. Christianity and Judaism both believe in one God who is almighty, omniscient, omnipresent, eternal, and infinite. Both religions believe in a God who is holy, righteous, and just, while at the same time loving, forgiving, and merciful.
Christianity and Judaism share the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament) as the authoritative Word of God, although Christianity includes the New Testament as well.
Both Christianity and Judaism believe in the existence of heaven, the eternal dwelling place of the righteous, and hell, the eternal dwelling place of the wicked. Christianity and Judaism have basically the same ethical code, commonly known today as Judeo-Christian. Both Judaism and Christianity teach that God has a special plan for the nation of Israel and the Jewish people.
The all-important difference between Christianity and Judaism is the Person of Jesus Christ. Christianity teaches that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies of a coming Messiah / Savior (Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 9:6-7; Micah 5:2). Judaism often recognizes Jesus as a good teacher, and perhaps even a prophet of God. Judaism does not believe that Jesus was the Messiah.
Taking it a step further, Christianity teaches that Jesus was God in the flesh (John 1:1; John 1:14; Hebrews 1:8). Christianity teaches that God became a human being in the Person of Jesus Christ so He could lay down His life to pay the price for our sins (Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Judaism strongly denies that Jesus was God or that such a sacrifice was necessary.
Sharing your faith, with words alone
In this letter we learn that Peter had a great challenge, he had to describe the miraculous life that he had witnessed while with Jesus. The Jews has the Old Testament knowledge and that was their foundation. Now when Peter starts sharing his own eyewitness about the prophecy of the Old Testament being fulfilled, it was a difficult situation.
Have you ever had to share your experience with others and try to convince them without any solid evidence?
That is exactly what Peter was doing. The New Testament, as we have it today, was not produced at this time. Peter could not reference Paul’s writings to the Philippians, Romans or Luke’s great work in the Acts of the Apostles, let alone any gospels. It was shear persuasion by communicating his testimony.
Once we realize how difficult these situations were, we can begin to imagine the struggle being a Christian in those times. Today we are aware of the gospels and we take the Bible in its entirety to be Holy and truthful. We don’t have this big tradition behind us that needs to be transformed (besides our lack of knowledge).
Latter Day Saints (Mormon)
This same type of scenario can be compared to the movement of the Latter Day Saints of the Mormon sect. The door to door missionaries offer the Book of Mormon and tell you about its author, Joseph Smith. Smith, they will say, translated the Book of Mormon from golden plates he dug up in a hill in New York in the early 1800s. They will attempt to lay out the same situation that Peter was faced with. Providing the “remainder of the story”. What they will not share with you are the other books that make up their belief and religion (The Doctrine and Covenants and The Pearl of Great Price) If people knew up front what they were really going to be asked to believe (things such as God once being a man, denial of the Trinity, Satan being Jesus’ brother, pre-existence of souls, etc.), the Mormon religion may not be as appealing.
We know from the Holy Bible, that the “remainder of the story” has already been given in the book of Revelation. Joseph Smith ended up prophesying that New York would be destroyed if they rejected the Mormon message (D&C 84:114-115). He also prophesied that the rebellion of South Carolina and the War Between the States would result in war being poured out upon all nations; slaves would revolt; the inhabitants of the earth would mourn; famine, plague, earthquake, thunder, lightning, and a full end of all nations would result (D&C 87). Oddly, this prophecy is the one most often cited by Mormons to prove Joseph Smith’s prophetic power!
Joseph Smith was a polytheist. History of the Church 6:474 records Smith stating, “I wish to declare I have always and in all congregations when I have preached on the subject of the Deity, it has been the plurality of Gods.” Joseph Smith declared that “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens!” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 345). This is clearly not the biblical God.
Do not believe that the Mormon religion is anything like 1 Peter and his situation
For more information on the Mormon religion, check out: Christian view of Mormonism at Got Questions
Sprinkling of Blood
Peter uses a great illustration in the end of verse 2. He puts in this reference to sprinkling of blood after proclaiming the trinity. To us today, that might not mean much. But it was significant in many ways.
What is your thoughts on the punctuation of the sprinkling of His blood?
This statement would really resonate with the Jews. We may quickly take the term sprinkling and think of baptism, submersion vs sprinkling, but that is not the context of the statement. This use of the idea of “sprinkling of His blood” is referencing the atonement of reconciliation of the Old Testament. On the day of Atonement, when reconciliation was made for the people of God, the blood of the slain animals was taken by the high priest into the Holy of Holies and sprinkled on the mercy seat. Peter brings this Old Testament detail fully known by the Jews and declaring that Jesus was the last sacrifice. We know that Jesus blood was poured out on the cross when he fully died for our sins, but this statement is to bind the Jewish thinking into the central point of Jesus being the last sacrifice and fulfillment of prophecy.
Grace and Peace Multiplied
This opening phrase used by Peter is similar to many Paul letters, with the difference being this encouragement and charge to have grace and peace multiplied in us. Not just received, not just blessed with grace and peace, but propelled and multiplied. Growing, increasing in magnitude. It’s available to us. The more we know of God, the more familiar we are with his promises, the more our thinking is shaped and saturated by the words of the Lord Jesus, and the more grace and peace will be multiplied to us. The Bible contains the source of the grace and peace we need. Jesus intends for his words to abide in us, because they are the words of life.
Conclusion & Challenge
Go out this week, knowing that you have received a grace and peace from God that is not stagnant. It is not a one time moment or gift. It is a living hope that should be multiplying in your life. You should not be the same person you were when you received your salvation. During your daily times of self examination and quite times, reflect on what your life would have been like if you were one of the first disciples and attempted to share what you know and then realize how much simplier we have it today because we have the New Testament in our possession. We have the Holy Bible, not by quick gathering of literature, but over thousands of years tested and refined to a masterpiece. Be confident when you share your Biblical beliefs and know that you do not have to argue with anyone about its validity. Share your testimony as a living hope for others.
1-2 Peter (St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary) – RC Sproul
Be Hopeful – Warren Weirsbe